Building a shop from scratch

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I'm about to have the enviable opportunity to build a shop from the ground up. Wife & I are moving to 10 acres with a 40x40 pole barn. I'm planning on sectioning off about a 20x40 area for a dedicated workshop. I'm a relative newbie so I'm looking for things to consider if you had to do it all over again.
I currently own a table saw w/router table attached, 14" bandsaw, 12" benchtop drill press. Next major investment will probably be a dedicated dust collector, followed by a surface planer, then a jointer.
Questions:
- I recall seeing somewhere a dust collector system that expelled wood chips directly outside to a mulch/compost heap? I havn't been able to find any information on anything like this... was I drunk?
- Any advice on a space heater? We have natural gas at the house & I could probably run a line to the pole barn pretty easily.
- Any general thoughts/recommendations on workshop setup, construction materials, lighting, tool placement, etc?
Will post pics when done... Thanks.
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What are the annual temperature ranges and precipitation expectations where this is located? How much electric power is available at the pole barn now? An insulated ceiling for the shop should be installed before walling off the shop itself. Is the pole barn itself on high ground such that water drains away from it? Now would be the time to install a full bathroom with shower into this area. Try not to face any doors to the north and only high small windows to the west.
On Mon, 20 Oct 2003 21:31:09 -0700, Ed Komeshak

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I'd look at infra-red heaters. They heat you up quick.

I'd build a cart for the drill press. I did that and got if off the bench giving me more space and portability of the press to move it out of the way when in use. Given the total space you have, a router table with storage may be better than having your saw tied up at times.
You did not mention air. If you don't have a compressor, get one. Then run black iron pipe or copper tubing around the wall with many taps so you can plug a tool in where needed. Ed snipped-for-privacy@snet.net http://pages.cthome.net/edhome
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Ed Komeshak writes:

I envy you. Not the pole barn, but being young enough to do it. When I buil tmy shop, I felt it might be a little on the large side at 25' x 48'. It's not. Section off the whole barn. If you need an outbuilding for mowers and such garbage, build another shed.

Big fan and open door.

Vented furnace. I use a recycled (got it free from a local HVAC guy) electric furnace.

Skylights are good. So are T8 fluors. Put lights in at least 2 banks, so a blown breaker doesn't get them all. Lotsa light fictures. Lotsa wiring.
Place tools to suit YOUR working style. Not mine. Not someone else's. That said, I like the planer so it is fed from the small door for extra long pieces. The table saw is to one side and forward of it about 8'. I shorten stuff before it goes through there. The jointer is next to the table saw. When I get a RAS again, it will go next to the wall, somewhere.
Lots of flat space is handy, too.
Enjoy.
Charlie Self
"Middle age is when your age starts to show around your middle." Bob Hope
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Of course, there's all kinds of information on the internet and in newsgroups. But you have to hunt for it and digest it in bits and pieces. There is no substitute for a good comprehensive book with lots of pictures. They are much more enjoyable in the John, even though we have wireless laptops now. :-)
I have gotten a lot of enjoyment and ideas from a book named "Setting up Shop" by Saundor Nagyszalanczy (Taunton press). To give you and idea of how its layed out, there are individual chapters titled:
Walls, ceilings, and floors Electricity and lighting Heating and Ventilation Equipping your shop Shop Layout Benches and work areas Storing tools, lumber, and supplies Dust collection and compressed air Shop safety
As you see, its quite comprehensive.
Bob

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Have you thought about putting a small wood stove in? My wife complains because smetimes my shop is warmer than the house. I can really crank up the heat to dry glue or just because. I keep my coffee hot, melt wax and even do some edge burning on it. The best thing is I get rid of all my unusable chunks of wood. Now before anyone complains and says all chunks of wood are usable I only need so many pen blanks. As for the chips...I use an old blower motor and fan from an old furnace I built a square box about 5feet tall and 1 foot square. I mounted the suction side of the fan on the top of the box. I made a door on the bottom to clean it out with and finally made a modified filter. The filter is a standard furnace filter but I added a tight mesh screen to the bottom of it. Everyonce in a while I need to clean it out. Now by adding propper size holes and a little liquid nails I simply plumb using sewer pipes and then flex tubing I purchased from the hardware store. The over all project cost me about 100 dollars and that was just for the plumbing. The furnace fan was given to me by a furnace installer and the wood was scrap that I hadn't burned yet. I also burn the chips of wood. I put them in a small cardboard box like a cereal box or just wrap them in newspaper. I stay plenty warm and even have an old lazyboy chair out there to relax in. Another reason for a wood stove is that it give you a good reason to go buy firewood. Some of my best pieces of work have been nothing but an old piece of firewood. Consider a scroll saw, radial arm saw, and perhaps a lathe in the future. Where will all these pieces fit? I would think about using the whole barn. Just a thought. I am on 100 acres and have multiple sheds though. When I started woodworking it was in my garage. My wife complained about all the dust on her car every morning. -- Unless you can create the WHOLE universe in 5 days, Then perhaps giving "advice" to God, isn't such a good idea!

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snip

snip
If you don't mind the outside air (humidity, temp) coming in you could use radiant heat (heats objects not air) and save a lot on filters/dust collection. Just blow it outside. Jon
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Use the whole building! Believe me and I think most here would agree, there is no such thing as a shop TOO big!
Jim

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I don't really have anything to add to the other posts except to say that you suck.
todd
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what was that for?
-- Unless you can create the WHOLE universe in 5 days, Then perhaps giving "advice" to God, isn't such a good idea!

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We're quite envious, you see.... Tom> S ubject: Re: Building a shop from scratch


I don't really have anything to add to the other posts except to say that you suck.

Someday, it'll all be over....
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New to the wreck, huh? ;-)
Like many things, context is everything. Here on the wreck, in a situation like this when someone says "you suck", what is meant is "I envy you, you lucky bastard" and is said in good fun.
todd
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Wife & I are moving to 10 acres with a 40x40 pole barn. > > I'm planning on sectioning off about a 20x40 area for a dedicated > > workshop.
Why not the whole 40x40? Bob AZ
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Possibly drunk, but some people do this. The problem is that it has to draw air into your shop to replace the air expelled outside. No big deal in nice weather to have a door open or window cracked. The problem is that in cold weather the incoming air is cold, so heating is a problem. If you leave all doors and windows closed and still run the system, it will suck air down the chimmney (vent pipe) of your heating system. This is a problem because of carbon monoxide poisoning.
I have a cyclone dust collector that drops all the dust into a large garbage can. When the can gets full, I can just wheel it outside and dump it. Piece of cake.
How about letting me use the other half of that barn!
Frank
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When I bought my Griz, they showed an option to use a garbage can to collect the larger stuff. I bought the adapter that is suppose to fit onto a standard garbage can. I have yet to try it due to space in the workshop but this might also be a way to go if you don't want to purchase a cyclone.
Craig p.s. I am looking at doing the same thing - move to 5 AC and put up a poll barn. Some good ideas from this thread for me already.

draw
nice
cold
all
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garbage
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I understand there is an auction currently on e-bay where you can outfit your shop.
But on a semi-serious note- what you are about to embark on is a dream for most of us. My own humble suggestions probably repeat what you have and will hear - pletny of electrical outlets, a 100 amp panel, think of putting down a fairly thick concrete slab in some portion of the shop as you never know when you may get some really heavy iron, lots of natural light, ceilings at least 9' high (if not open ceiling although the latter would be a bear to heat.

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I'm in a similar position; bought 11 acres a few years ago in western Maine, including a nice barn with high ceilings. A dream-come-true for me for sure!! I'm in the middle of outfitting it right now. Here are a few things I've either done or run into already;
1.) I sketched up a plan of my proposed shop and showed it to a friend who used to run his own cabinet shop. He had a lot of good suggestions, including some very detailed things that only an experienced hand would notice. Good idea to find someone like that, if you can.
2.) For some reason the guy who built the barn didn't insulate it, although he clad the interior with nice 1x10 shiplap pine. In the middle of winter its almost unusable. Most of the lights won't come on, the steel surfaces are so cold my hand sticks to them and most of the liquids like wood glues, paints etc freeze solid. Often the daytime temp in there was around '0' F. A kerosene heater I tried in there was useless. I'm working on insulating it and getting a wood stove in there. This winter I'm going to move my liquids into the house so they don't freeze. I also found a lot of rust on my chisels, even though they were in a leather roll, which I think is related to the cold. A heater in there would dry out the air.
3.) My ceiling is held up by open web joists which make for grand high space without any columns, but you can't hang anything from them, regardless of how tempting it is to do so.
4.) Six months ago I had a pretty good idea what I was going to do in there. I've already made some fairly significant changes to that initial plan, so be prepared to be flexible and don't get locked into one layout too quickly.
5.) I originally intended to build everything in there myself to get exactly what I wanted in terms of function and appearance. I have now decided that will take too much of my time and I bought inexpensive birch utility base cabinets from Lowes in an attempt to get things rolling and not get too bogged down in minutiae (like building ten drawers). My first big compromise; probably not my last.
My $.02, hope that helps.

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Care to share the suggestions that were made? Or were they covered in the other numbered points of your post?
Thank you in advance.
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A few things I recall;
He was most interested in thinking through the flow of work and materials through the shop. The whole layout revolves around that,
He suggested I put a planer and joiner right into the workflow, instead of having them at the side on mobile bases. This is to get me accustomed to using less expensive unsurfaced wood and not relying on precut lumber,
He suggested trying to get floor outlets or a pedestal at the table saw if at all possible,
He didn't like a floor drain because they have a mysterious way of sucking up everything that falls onto the floor,
He suggested I hang lots of lights right over the work areas, instead of trying to light the whole space from the ceiling,
And he suggested I put my compressor in an adjacent space so the noise isn't such a nuisance.
That's all I can think of.
Mo' Sawdust wrote:

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Sounds like you'll be building your dream shop gradually so setting priorities is the thing.
In hind sight I'd have to say shop lighting gets the ball rolling very nicely, do it well the first time and you'll need to do very little later in terms of specialized task lighting.
Secondly a bench that suits your work style will do more to develope your skills than anything I can think of.
Since you're not using rough lumber yet, why not make a few purchases here and there of some green lumber at a good price, you'll have barn space to store it as it cures and it will be ready in a year when your shop gets more geared up.
Wiring; currently I'm moving a basement shop and I decided to make both 110v and 220v recepticles at each of my machine locations. Makes for more flexibility as you acquire new equipment. For instance my RAS is 220v but I often use it as a work surface with various 110v portable power tools.
Your jointer and planer will need a fair amount of clearance for infeed and outfeed, group them together.
Dust extraction; nothing wrong with pushing a small unit around the shop until you get more established and know where things are going to be and then plan a ducted system.
A few guidelines that work for me:
1. Keep as much up off the floor as possible, makes the shop feel and work bigger and its easier to keep clean. Hanging cabinets, overhead storage, etc.
2. It's not necessary to have lots of flat surfaces, they collect tools that should be put away and general clutter. I have a free standing work bench that is probably on the small side and a portable assembly table. The table folds up and stores away when I need extra space. Having a tall and short assembly area is especially nice.
3. Always have a designated sharpening station(s) that make your equipment readily available. If you sharpen often its much easier to keep your tools right and not nearly as monotonous. It will impact your woodworking tremendously.
4. A small cart on wheels with multiple shelves to keep a project on is a very handy thing when you need to shift gears between projects. It keeps things all together and organized and frees up your work surfaces. I often push my project cart into the lumber room before I clean up the shop.
That's all I can think of for now.
Have fun,
David

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